Nil Onder, Brookdale Community College alumna and head coach for the Brookdale Jersey Blues Women’s Soccer Team, was named Garden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) Coach of the Year in October.
Onder has been passionate about soccer since she started as a student at Brookdale. “Brookdale was a great choice for me because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life or what I wanted to focus my studies on,” she said. “Just like every student-athlete, all I wanted to do was play soccer, and soccer helped me stay focused on my schoolwork.” While a student at Brookdale, Onder played midfield on the women’s soccer team in 2008 and 2009. Onder began her winning streak at Brookdale as a 2008 Garden State Athletic Conference team champion.
“There were many Brookdale employees who helped me through the years, but one person that will always stick out is Katie Amundson,” said Onder about her time as a student at the College. In 2009, Amundson, current director of Athletics and Recreation at Brookdale, became the assistant women’s soccer coach. “She has been involved with Athletics and the Women’s Soccer program since my days as a student,” Onder said of Amundson.
After Onder completed her associate degree at Brookdale, she was hired by the College as an hourly event staff in the Event Management Department. It was this experience that helped her decide to continue her education. “After gaining experience in the event management department, I connected with coordinating events and became passionate about a career path leading to event management,” Onder explained. She transferred to Kean University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Commercial Recreation. After graduating from Kean, Onder was hired full time at Brookdale in the Event Management Department.
Before completing her bachelor’s, in 2014 while still working part-time at Brookdale, Onder approached Amundson to talk about becoming part of Brookdale Women’s Soccer coaching staff. She was a volunteer assistant coach from 2014-2016. Onder’s winning streak continued as the Women’s Soccer team won three consecutive National Titles in 2013, 2014, and 2015, an accomplishment no other team has achieved. In 2016, Onder became the assistant coach of the team, a position she held until the beginning of this year.
“In January 2021, Katie stepped down from coaching, and I was approached with the interim head coach position,” explained Onder. In August, she was hired as the head coach. “After being involved with the program for years, it was an honor to become the head women’s soccer coach,” she said.
“Being named GSAC Coach of the Year in my first season as head coach is beyond my wildest dreams,” Onder said. “It is truly an honor and humbling to be acknowledged by the conference,” she said. When Onder was presented with the award, the team were undefeated in the conference, had the number one seed in the Region XIX playoffs, and was number five in the National Rankings.
“Being the head coach has been an honor and a privilege,” said Onder. “I have been part of this program since I first stepped foot at Brookdale. I have worked very hard to get to where I am today. I am grateful and fortunate to work with this talented group of student-athletes, coaches, and the Athletics Department.”